The Concord Band traditionally has been sponsored in the two evenings of their Pops Concerts by the Concord Rotary and the Emerson Hospital Auxiliary. This year, the Saturday night performance was the sole domain of the Concord Band, and they hosted a wonderful, spirited evening of entertainment with the magically-effervescent Amanda Carr as vocalist on some time-honored favorites. This was truly a night to remember.
In true Pops fashion, there were marches by John Phillip Sousa and Karl L. King, satisfying in their dynamic control and pitch-perfect execution. There were old time favorites including Turkey in the Straw, a traditional tune set in a quirky and entertaining new motif by a Concord Band favorite, Lewis Buckley, currently director of the Metropolitan Wind Symphony. The Dixieland combo featured in Tailgate Concerto was spot-on perfect in their interpretation of traditional New Orleans style jazz numbers. A Tribute to Spike Jones is a lighthearted romp, featuring a very different type of cymbal solo, performed with great humor and aplomb by long-time percussionist Buck Grace.
Two numbers that deserve a significant nod were K2: The Savage Mountain by Julie Giroux and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End by Hans Zimmer, arr. by Jay Bocook. K2 is an evocative number that uses multiple repeating motifs such as “blowing snow”, “wind” and “urgency” to depict the brooding majesty of one of the world’s tallest, most dangerous mountains. Tense, driving rhythms give way to beautiful flowing passages to depict the glory that is this natural wonder, in a truly moving piece. Pirates is a spirited, nautical-themed movie track that is familiar to all, young and old, and brings out the images of rogues and maidens in pursuit of treasures untold. The band obviously enjoys playing this number, as evidenced by their zestful performance, and the oboe solo in the middle section, played beautifully by Louanne Mackenzie, was inspired and lyrical. The final theme of this piece is the very recognizable “Pirate” motif to the series of movies, and was a definite crowd-pleaser.
The topper of the evening was the performances by Amanda Carr, a highly talented and much sought after singer and entertainer, who has graced the Concord Band for the past 10 years with her artistry. Her renditions of “Anything Goes”, “The Very Thought of You” “Someone to Watch Over Me” and “Mas Que Nada” lit up the stage and held the audience in rapt attention. When the opening chords and her scat lines leading into “New York State of Mind” (by Billy Joel) resonated through the hall, however, we all knew we were in for a major treat. Amanda does not disappoint. Her masterful blues technique and her obvious love for the music let her voice soar through verses and funky chord patterns, to the thrill of her audience. Amanda is a definite “must see” for romantics of all ages.
This evening of classic Pops music was definitely worth the effort to attend. It’s a pity the hall could not be larger, to accommodate more appreciative eyes and ears. The Concord Band is definitely worth hearing again and again, and is a reminder to us that you don’t need to travel to the city to hear great music. It’s right here in our neighborhood.